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Ahead of the Bell: Blue Nile

NEW YORK (AP) -- A William Blair analyst is lifting his rating for Blue Nile, saying that improving economic conditions and solid second-quarter trends should benefit the online jewelry company.

The analyst Mark Miller upgraded Blue Nile Inc. to "Outperform" from "Market Perform."

He said in a client note that rising consumer confidence, better access to consumer credit and stable diamond prices should help give a boost to Blue Nile's stock.

Miller also is upbeat on the second quarter, as it includes Mother's Day — Blue Nile's third most-significant holiday of the year behind Christmas and Valentine's Day. In addition, the U.S. non-engagement jewelry business is seeing better trends in wedding bands and diamond jewelry, with management feeling the segment could ramp up even more, he said.

Miller feels that the non-engagement business could be aided by several initiatives undertaken by Blue Nile, including its Band Matcher feature — which makes it easier for shoppers to match their engagement rings with complementary wedding bands.

A representative for Blue Nile did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Blue Nile shares closed at $38.91 on Monday. They have ranged from $22.94 to $43.54 over the past year.